So at this years IAAF World Relay Championships, Australia came 4th in the 4x100m relay!
As part of the team, I wanted to give you a little ‘Behind The Scenes’ info and explain how we managed to go from barely qualifying (relying on a roll down spot) to coming close to winning a medal.
See the 4x100m relay is probably the only event where 4 guys who are decent sprinters can take on 4 exceptional sprinters and win. Whilst flat speed is important, what’s more important is getting the baton around as efficiently as possible and that’s what we’ve been working on as a team for a number of months.
The Queenslanders in the team (Trae Williams, Tom Gamble and Myself) have been getting together to work on our exchanges every few weeks since around September last year. This was something we started on our own and included a number of other talented Queensland athletes in an attempt to raise the standard of relays in Australia. Our sessions were pretty simple – we’d get together, do a number of drills, run some exchanges at a fairly quick pace, usually have lunch as a team and go home. Whilst the training itself was usually serious, there would be a substantial amount of banter in between reps which led to us becoming a well bonded team.
Fast forward to early March and we had an opportunity to race in Queensland as a team to try and qualify for the IAAF World Relays (In order to qualify for an IAAF World event, we had to run the qualifying time of 39.00 seconds and there had to be at least one international team in the race – this time it was Japan). Our team (in order) was Trae Williams, Tom Gamble, Myself and Jack Hale. We had a pretty good race with the exchange between Tom and Myself being extremely close to being outside of the zone (which would have disqualified us). We crossed the line in 39.25 seconds – so close yet so far. We tried again a few weeks later in Canberra but unfortunately had a very similar result.
Our time was close but not good enough for us to qualify, which meant we had to rely on the IAAF roll down list (Only 24 teams can qualify and we were ranked 26th which meant 2 teams had to pull out for us to get selected) to get our chance. Thankfully, a few days after the 2017 Australian National Championships we received a message saying that we were in! There were six of us selected – Nick Andrews, Aaron Bresland, Rohan Browning, Tom Gamble, Trae Williams and Myself. Not long after receiving the message, we were off!
A race had been arranged for us in California, L.A. at the Mt Sac Relays. A race where some of the best colleges from around the country come together to battle it out – to see the race and my review, click here. But before that, we had a few days to get over the jet lag and squeeze in a small skill session (which was horrible – thanks jet lag!).
After the Mt Sac Relays we had 1 week to finalize our preparations for the World Relays. In that week we only did a few sessions and had a fair amount of down time to do what ever – so we became tourists! When we trained we were really switched on and bounced off each other to make sure we had a great session. When we were away from the track however, training was the last thing on our minds.
Thursday quickly came around and after about an hour and a half of flying, we were in The Bahamas!
We were taken to a lovely hotel called the ‘Breezes Super Club‘ where we’d be staying for the next few days. When we didn’t have to train or compete, we were either eating at the buffet, playing pool or table tennis or enjoying the private beach, hammocks or swimming pools and spa! It sure is tough being an athlete….. but I digress… We checked out the stadium the day before race day to get a feel for it all. There were still things being set up but the track felt a little dead and there was little to no atmosphere thanks to the empty seats. Even so, we completed a skill session and went back to the hotel.
Race day came around in no time but we weren’t competing until 8pm so we still had to wait around all day. The team kept things very chilled and relaxed until we jumped on the bus to head to the track. You could see that everyone was focused. We were all there to do a job and finally the time had come.
After a 15 minute bus ride, we were at the track. Cheers were erupting from the stadium as junior athletes competed before the main event. We went into our gazebo and started to prepare for battle. Almost 2 hours later we were called for our race. We drew Heat 1, Lane 6 – perfect for us. There was some serious competition in our race though. Pretty much everyone we were competing against had the potential to go all the way but that didn’t bother us in the least. We were ready and it didn’t matter who we were going up against.
We were taken into the call room where we put our spikes on and did our final preparations before racing. It didn’t take long before we were being pushed out into stadium for our introduction. The track was nothing like the day before – it had come alive! The seats were full of cheering, excited fans and the atmosphere was electric. I hurried over to my starting position and before I knew it the race had started.
3 awesome exchanges and 4 well run legs had us cross the line in 3rd in 39.09 seconds – a personal best for the four of us and after a very anxious wait in the warm up area, we were the fastest non-automatic qualifier and had ourselves a shot in the A final!
Our excitement had to be contained fairly quickly as there was around 2 hours to the final and we didn’t want to burn ourselves out. After a short rest, we did a short warm up and were called to race once again.
8 teams started the race and only 5 finished with Australia finishing in 4th place! Considering we only had guys around the 10.2 – 10.3 pace, I think we did a pretty good job! By crossing the line in the final we have qualified for the 4x100m relay at the 2017 World Championships in London later this year! Whilst our time in the final was nothing special (due to most exchanges being quite sloppy) we’re super excited to be heading to London where we’ll be aiming for even quicker and more efficient races!